Walter’s Way: How A Relief Kid Survived TB, Corporate Betrayal, Bankruptcy, Made Millions, and Touched the Lives of Billions is a memoir by Walter J. Scherr, co-written by John Hanc and Deborah Chiel. The memoir, published by John Wiley & Sons, won the 2017 Lumen Award for Literary Excellence, and Gold for nonfiction in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest.
Mr. Scherr, now 93, was interviewed by his co-writer John Hanc.
What inspired you to write your memoir?
“I always wanted to do this as a legacy project for my grandchildren. I also wanted people to know about the Center for Discovery, a facility in upstate New York that provides services for children and adults with severe disabilities. It’s a very special place, and it’s not as well-known as it should be. I hope my book will give it greater exposure.” (Hanc Ed. Note: All net proceeds of Walter’s Way go to the Center.)
What’s the target age group for your book?
“Anybody, of any age, that is entrepreneurial, or that needs inspiration and would like to hear a good story about a kid who started off with nothing, but through hard work and the help of others, became a success. Personally, I don’t think we can get enough of those stories!”
You decided to use professional writing help for your book. What was that like?
“I wrote about eight chapters on my own. But when the professional writers got involved, I realized why they are professionals. There was more depth, more background, more color and context in everything. Dialogue was more natural, and the story just seemed to flow much better. It worked also because we were a good team…the designers and other people involved in the project as well…and we all had a common goal. That was, to produce a really good book. Winning two prestigious awards…a silver medal the Axiom Business Book awards last year, and now this wonderful Literary Classics award are the proof that we succeeded.”
Your book is a memoir, but you met some interesting and well-known people in your life. Who would be among the most memorable characters that you discuss in your book?
“I had the privilege of meeting, and in some cases, working with Douglas MacArthur, Mother Theresa and David Rockefeller—not to mention some of the most brilliant corporate and military minds of their generation. I hope young readers will discover and learn something about these amazing people, and the remarkable times I lived through.”
Do you have plans to, or have you already, released an audio edition of your book?
“Yes! It was produced by Tom `T.C.’ Czajczynski, and we’ve got some original music on it. I’m very proud of it. We hope to have it available for sale at the Great American Book Festival in Rapid City.”
Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?
“I can’t say that I have too many at my age. But I did see `The Lion King’ five times! It was one of the most beautiful and meaningful productions I’ve ever seen.”
What did you learn about the writing process from doing your book?
“It takes discipline, concentration… and the right attitude. And it helps to have a good memory, if you’re doing a memoir!”
Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate my fellow authors and award-winners. Second, as I am probably the oldest in this group, I’d like to offer a little advice to anyone reading this. It’s never too late to start. I was 90 when I made the decision to write this memoir. If you want to write a book, or compose a song, or paint a picture or build a business, don’t let anything stand in your way. You have to be obsessed, in a positive way. That’s really the secret. There are always going to be up’s and down’s in life. Having that positive attitude is what keeps you moving forward—or backwards or whatever direction you want to go.”
Walter J. Scherr
New York native Walter J. Scherr was a founding board member and executive officer of four international companies and chairman of three charitable foundations. Walter’s many ventures, which include the production of a Hollywood film, “Whatever It Takes” (1986) took him to 42 countries over the course of his career. He has been profiled in Fortune and the Wall Street Journal. In 2005, he was honored by the United States Congress with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition for his outstanding and invaluable service to the community.
John, the author/co-author of 16 books, is also a long-time contributing writer to the New York Times, Smithsonian, Newsday and Runner’s World magazine. He teaches memoir writing at the annual Harvard Medical School Writing, Publishing and Social Media course and is an associate professor of communications at New York Institute of Technology.
A writer, editor, and collaborator who began her publishing career at Simon & Schuster over 30 years ago, Deb has written or co-written sixteen fiction and nonfiction books.
Part autobiography and part history lesson, Walter Scherr’s memoir WALTER’S WAY is a tale full of adventure and excitement as well as disappointment and heartache. Scherr’s new book tells the story of how a Depression-era boy from Queens, New York overcame a life-threatening illness to live an adventurous life as a globe-trotting executive who witnessed and helped foster the post-World War II economic boom. The lessons he shares about business, leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and family are priceless. While imparting Scherr’s unique perspectives on business, success, risk, love, and life, WALTER’S WAY will also inspire the power of philanthropy and the value of caring for others, a spirit that shines through the pages of the book. All proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to The Center for Discovery.
“This a compelling story that will encourage and inspire readers of all ages.” —Literary Classics Book Awards
Follow Walter’s Way on Facebook, Twitter, and Walter Scherr’s website. For additional information on the Center for Discovery (charitable partner of Walter’s Way), please visit http://www.thecenterfordiscovery.org/.
Many congratulations to Mr. Scherr and his writing team! Read about more Literary Classics Book Awards winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.